Mood Dialogues

Advice to a young Kenyan writer.


A dear friend’s comment concerning my manuscript:

I wouldn’t really call it a postmodernist text in the strict sense of that word (what does that word mean anyway?). It is more like a old trial, like an obscure film director experimenting with documentary film where nothing much happens. The world has seen enough of this. Maybe twenty of your friends will buy your novel out of a false sense of loyalty.

Perhaps you invest and trust too much in your surrealist and Dadaists. Good for you. But it might do you far more benefit to read some Mann and some Fashion magazines.

Your actions are impossible, all your characters overbearing and conceited, your dialogue impossible, except only for the fact that they appear on a page.

Your manuscript is too long for the simple things it proposes to accomplish. I suggest you burn the entire thing. But you are a young writer, you can’t yet conceive of burning an entire manuscript, both as a political and personal act, but more importantly as a financial act. Think of the many man hours and paper you will save if you give up this horrible endeavour.

You will no doubt go back to Rilke before you return to editing the manuscript. Good for you. I suggest you don’t send me the manuscript again. Also, I do not edit post-coital, I have told you before I am in the tiring company of a young English and French major in a hotel in Kirinyaga. I have two mountains to climb, as it were. She also expects me to read her manuscript. Why is it that every young writer I meet either wants to sleep with me or give me their manuscript to read? Sometimes it gets confusing and I’m not sure whether I’m reading bad grammar or fucking. Or both.

Your manuscript might have some future success, Clifton, but you will be long dead by then.

Until next time.

Your Friend.


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